Soltek SL-FRN2-L Motherboard Review

The original nForce motherboard was regarded to some as weak and not successful against the KT333 chipset at the time.  I in the other hand picked up an Abit NV7-133R and believed it faired well.  The nForce was stable, quick and NVIDIA’s first dive into the competitive market.

Fast forward into the future of NVIDIA’s newest offering.

The nForce 2 has received much acclaim and attention of the PC enthusiast.  The revised motherboard offers a ton of improvements such as the revised memory controller performance with the addition of Dual DDR 400 memory.  Features such as overclocking options have too been revamped.

Lastly, the strongest point of the nForce in my opinion was the sound capabilities.  It could support up to 256 voices and was as good as the big boys.  Today, NVIDIA has improved the sound part of things with the addition of SoundStorm.

For more information on the technical part of the nForce 2 design, because it would take to long to explain, take a look at NVIDIA's site.  I might in the future make an article explaining the nForce 2 design.

Soltek is a relatively new company by looking at date of start.  However, there have been good boards from them that I remember from a couple of years ago.  Soltek has spent their earnings on bringing their line of products to North America.   Their USA site has been totally revamped with a new feel.

Today we are proud to introduce our first motherboard review and are proud to give you the Soltek SL-FRN2-L review!

The Soltek SL-FRN2-L is a budget board towards to people who want to save money but want to have performance.

The Soltek SL-FRN2-L arrives packaged in exquisite style.  It comes in a Soltek bag! You would usually find this if you shopped in Asian markets, but that’s a different story.

The feel of the quality of paper is amazing.  It's not just regular paper.  It feels smooth and silky.  Call me crazy but I wanted to say that.

The Soltek box is bright, colorful, and stands out really well.  There are other marketing pieces such as a Soltek banner sort to speak where you can hang on your room, etc.  There are other brochures displaying their line of products as well.

What the Soltek SL-FRN2-L comes bundled with are the following:

  • Soltek SL-FRN2-L motherboard
  • User manual
  • Quick Install guide
  • Support CD’s
  • Bonus CD Pack
  • Bonus CD Pack manual
  • ATA66/100/133 IDE Cable
  • FDD Cable + ATX Bracket

Soltek case badge too!

The bundled software surprised me the most because Soltek was kind enough to give you $325U.S worth of full version software. That’s bang for your buck.   It includes PC-cillin 2002 (Anti-Virus program), VirtualDrive 7 (emulates CD-Rom drive and run them off your HDD), RestoreIT 3 Lite (recover files + OS), PartitionMagic 6.0SE (make HDD partitions), and DriveImage 4.0 (HDD cloning/backup program).



FSB 333/266MHz
USB2.0 Multiplier Setting
BIOS FSB Setting
BIOS Vcore Setting
BIOS DIMM/AGP Voltage Setting
6-ch Audio

Main Features

FSB 333/266 MHz
Supports Dual Channel DDR SDRAM @ *400/333/266 MHz
Supports AGP 8X/4X mode
Supports 2 x Ultra ATA 133/100/66
Supports ABSII
BIOS Vcore, FSB, AGP, DIMM Voltage Setting
Supports USB2.0/1.1
RTL8139C LAN onboard
6-channel Audio
* Soltek Computer Inc. typically runs a DDR 400 Memory Module Validation Program.


AMD Socket-462 Athlon / Athlon XP / Duron / Athlon XP Barton processor to 3000+


Features 333/266/200MHz Front Side Bus settings
Dual Channel *400/333/266MHz Memory Bus
DDR200, DDR266, DDR333, DDR400 compliant
Asynchronous Memory Mode
Supports AGP 8X/4X
* Soltek Computer Inc. typically runs a DDR 400 Memory Module Validation Program for Chipset VIA P4X400A.

Supports Ultra ATA-133/100/66 transfer protocol
Provides 6-channel AC'97 Audio
Support for six USB 2.0/1.1 Ports (max.)


3 x 184-pin DDR DIMM
Supports 6 banks up to 3GB DRAMs for Unbuffered DDR SDRAM Module

Cache Memory

Built-in to AMD Athlon™ XP, Athlon™ and Duron™ Processor Module
On-Board EIDE

2 x PCI Bus Master UATA 133/100/66 IDE ports (up to 4 ATAPI Devices)
Supports for PIO Mode 3, 4, UATA 133/100/66 IDE & ATAPI CD-ROM

Integrated Super I/O

1 x Floppy Port (supports 360K, 720K, 1.2M, 1.44M and 2.88Mbytes)
2 x serial ports (high-speed 16550A FIFO UART Ports)
1 x Parallel Port with EEP/ECP/SPP Capabilities
1 x PS/2 Mouse, 1 x PS/2 Keyboard connectors
6 x USB Ports (four via optional cable)
1 x Audio/Game Port

Expansion Slots

1 x AGP 8X/4X Slot
5 x 32-bit PCI Bus Master Slots

Form Factor

ATX Form Factor (305mm x 245mm)


AMI Plug-and-Play BIOS
Supports Advanced Power Management Function
Flash Memory for easy upgrade

Other Features

SL-02KIT (Optional)

BIOS Multiplier Setting
RedStorm Overclocking (Optional)
BIOS FSB Setting
Ultra ATA 133/100/66
BIOS Vcore setting
6-ch AC'97 Audio Function
BIOS AGP Voltage Setting
SmartDoc. Anti-burning Shield
BIOS DIMM Voltage Setting
H/W Monitor


First off, I have to say the color scheme is kickass!  That’s just my opinion though.

The layout of the motherboard is good for the most part.  The IDE connectors are placed on the top right, beside the memory slots.

The AGP slot does not have a lock like most boards do to prevent the card from sliding out when you shift your case from time to time.

The Northbridge is cooled via active cooling system, as it tends to get hot during load and high FSB speeds.

Removing the cooler reveals a more than adequate supply of thermal grease.  I noticed that the grease was thick too.  I will be using Arctic Silver 3 to replace the grease.

The chipset revision is C1.

The CPU socket is positioned to the upper left of the board.  If you look closely, there is something missing.  There are no 4-hole mountings for bigger heatsinks and water-cooling setups.  There are a couple of resistors around the area, but every cooler we tested to date fit.  The board has two thermal resistors. One placed in the CPU socket reading CPU temperatures and the other right above the AGP slot to read system temperatures.

The Soltek SL-FRN2-L is powered via ATX connector and a 4-pin P4 connector.  It is recommended if your power supply is ATX 2.03 compliant.  I don’t really like Soltek’s decision on placing the ATX connector on the left of the motherboard.  As my Abit NV7-133R has it in the same area, it hinders the CPU cooler and is difficult to clear it away as possible.  This also depends on how big your case is too.  If your case is big, you may be able to route it away, but in small cases you will be stuck.

To save money, Soltek has implemented a Realtek sound solution.  It supports up to 6-channel sound and is onboard.  Therefore, there is no nForce sound panel such as my Abit NV7-133R has.  The sound quality was very good.  There is also no bass or treble options.  So make sure you have a sound system that can change the bass and treble for you, or buy a sound card.

To save on extra money, not all the features such as Firewire, SATA, and the full six USB 2.0 ports are present.  There are two USB 2.0 ports present and the others you will need to purchase a bracket to plug in the USB 2.0 connectors on board.  However, there are different models of this board to choose from

The Dual Channel Memory Game

To activate Dual-DDR, it is recommended that you have the same ram modules for the best possible compatibility.

The Soltek SL-FRN2-L supports up to 3GB of unbuffered DDR 400 memory.

You have to place your two sticks of memory into Slot 1 and 3 shown above to activate Dual Channel.   It is really easy to tell which slots enable Dual-DDR because there are only 2 yellow colored memory slots.  The other is a black one.  Filling all 3 slots provides you with single channel memory mode. 

I will be using my 2 sticks of Crucial PC 2100 ram in testing.

Other pictures

Soltek Hardware Monitor on the Soltek CD.  The Spire FalconRock II is running at 35-37 degrees idle.  Lower than on the Abit mobo.

Bios on the left, Winbond chip for reading temps on the right.

Back of the motherboard.  Sexy color.

FalconRock II installed. 

Soltek box opened for the first time

Awesome marketing style

Where everything connects.  You have your PS/2 ports, 2 COM ports, Printer port, sound, game port, LAN, and two USB 2.0 ports

The Southbridge is not cooled with a heatsink.  I feel it should have been because during high FSB and during IDE access, the Southbridge gets hot.  The Southbridge (MCP or Multimedia Communications port) handles things such as the sound, IDE access, Hard Drive and so on.

The Bios

The Soltek SL-FRN2-L implements a Phoenix Award Bios.  There are 13 options when you enter the Bios.  There are 6 sections that open further that include:

- Standard CMOS Features

- Advanced BIOS Features

- Advanced Chipset Features

Here present is the CPU-Thermal-Throttling feature designed when and if your CPU goes over a desired temperature (you choose) the motherboard will cut the CPU by what ever percentage selected in order for the CPU to cool and prevent damage.   For example, I have a 1.6GHz CPU.  If it reaches 85 degrees, the system will cut the 1.6GHz clock speed into half (50%). 

Here you can change your AGP Frequency from 50MHz-100MHz.  You also can change your CPU FSB from 100MHz-250MHz in 1MHz increases.  Memory timings are all here as well.

- Integrated Peripherals

- Power Management Setup

- PnP/PCI Configurations

- SmartDoc Anti-Burn Shield

Here is all your computer voltage stats, etc.  The Soltek board features Soltek ABS II (Anti-Burn Shield) CPU Protection.  This is a very unique idea.   When and if your CPU temperatures read by the ABS II Temp reaches up to a certain desired value (you choose) the system will shutdown. 

- CPU Ratio/Voltage Control

Here you can change your CPU ratio (multiplier).  It goes up to 18x.

Many people will tinker around in the Advanced Chipset Features panel.  Soltek dubs their overclocking options, Red Storm Overclocking.


Here are what programs we use for benchmarking motherboards:

  • Sisoft Sandra 2003 SP1 version
  • 3Dmark 2001 SE
  • 3Dmark 2003 Build 320
  • PCMark 2002
  • CineBench 2003
  • UT 2003
  • Other observations


I was surprised with the big improvement in the HDD performance over the 21465KB/S we got with our Abit NV7-133R shown in the CoolMax round cable review.  This shows that the Soltek SL-FRN2-L has an effective IDE controller.  That is why programs run faster than before. Hmm...




About Overclocking

During overclocking tests, everything went well with phase one of synchronous overclocking. However, when I wanted to try asynchronous overclocking, the Bios had died on me. Across all nForce 2 lines, there has been one problem that has hit every motherboard according to Oliver at Soltek and that has been that the Bios may crash easily. I recommend that you overclock over time, not all at once. Change and save options slow and it should be okay.

Thanks to Al at Soltek, he sent me over a Bios chip and everything was fine. I want to thank Duke and Al for their fast response and help.

On a locked AGOIA 1900+

Here is overclocking with my locked AMD XP 1900+ in synch with the PC2100 ram.  I hit 145FSB with no problems but the ram was the limiting factor.

3Dmark 2001 SE @ 145FSB – 11795


The nForce 2 brings the game of high performance to a new level. NVIDIA’s changes have been a big improvement over their nForce 1 design. Across all programs and benchmarks, I have noticed faster frame rates and faster loading of programs.
Soltek has done an excellent job putting the things together. With a kickass visual flair, stability, and functionality, Soltek has hit a home run.

There were a few problems with the layout particularly the ATX connector position that I disliked. I would have liked it in the far right of the motherboard. A heatsink on the Southbridge would be nice to have extra stability.
Some users may be turned off by the lack of Serial ATA and such, but if you are looking for a motherboard on the budget that can perform, the Soltek SL-FRN2-L is our pick.

I rate the Soltek SL-FRN2-L a…


Pros & Cons

+ Out of the box performance
+ Good OC options
+ NB cooled actively
+ Stable
+ Style
+ Presentation
- Missing some features
- ATX Connector placement

If you are going to buy an AMD motherboard and don’t want to spend lots of $$ but want a fast motherboard, I seriously recommend checking out the Soltek SL-FRN2-L.

Great job Soltek!

Let me thank Al from Soltek for helping me with the Bios situation and Duke from for supplying us the board for review.


$ 91 U.S. @ – Lowest price found

Be sure to check out for more products and great deals. They really have some good deals and the service is great.



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